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Table Manners for Kids

Anyone know of a great book that teaches table manners for kids? I want to brush up on my own as well so I make sure I teach my little ones correctly.

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  1. "Miss Manner's Guide to Rearing Perfect Children" by Judith Martin. In addition to receiving good information, you'll have some chuckles as you read. She's funny not stuffy and explains some of the puzzling "why" questions we all have about table manners.

    What a nice thing you are doing for your children. Someday, it may be far far in the future, they will thank you because knowing right from wrong at table will set them apart from many of their peers. (I hear "thank you" from my grown sons who are appalled at some of the table manners they witness at business meals.)

    1. The Goops... I still remember the rhymes many, many years later...

      The goops they lick their fingers
      the goops they lick their knives

      Looks like they are still in print. http://www.thegoops.com/

      1. I think it's a great idea too. I want to start some classes on this subject in my area. I'm going to culinary school right now, but when I'm done I wanted to start a "cooking school" for adults but have kids classes too...table manners are sorely lacking in kids today and I regret not instilling them well in my kids when they were young. Follow my journey, at age 52, through culinary school. Mrs. Fabulous goes to culinary school. http://mrsfabulousfeasts.blogspot.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: mrsfabulous

          Thanks for the link to the Goops! So glad they're still around in some form. My siblings and I read this book when we were young, too. In fact, I have the same book here on the shelf now (thanks, mom, for not selling THIS at one of your garage sales!). We can all still recite passages from these funny poems, and it happens at almost every family gathering (usually when someone does someting gauche, and someone else says "hey -- who invited the Goops to the party?")

          I thnk it is essential for children to begin to learn this as soon as they are old enough to sit at the table, but make it fun instead of a "because those are the rules" kind of thing.

        2. I have purchased both Emily Post, "Etiquette for Children" and 365 Days of Manners Kids Should Know which is an interactive book full of games, activities and crafts that teach manners in a fun yet eloquent way. There are also manner department stores such as Nordstrom that offer etiquette classes for young children. My children took the class at Nordstrom and learned so much that I was impressed!

          1. Thanks everyone! I will check into those books.

            1. How about simple:

              As they progress from very young upward to pre-teen: 1) Sit in the chair w/all 4 chair legs on the floor, 2) be quiet and lastly, 3) eat with the proper utensil.

              That's about it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: CocoaNut

                May I add to your very elementary, but factual and effective, list of simple rules?
                I think it's important that children (and adults) realize we're, as human beings, part of the hominid species rather than the bovine species and it's important that we keep our mouths closed while we are chewing on food.

                1. re: latindancer

                  Thanks for that addition! Chewing with an open mouth is a pet peeve of mine. So rude! My daughter and I began teaching my grandson manners as soon as we felt he understood and when he makes a mistake and we correct him he just happily does it right because he sees it pleases us and that makes him feel proud. I think it so unfair to let a child become one that people don't want to be around..

                  1. re: latindancer


                    A couple of weeks ago while eating out, I noticed a family of 4 eating at a table nearby. The early teenage boy was eating with his fork, toddler-style, grasping the fork palm down. I was shocked that someone that age would be allowed to eat in that fashion. Then I noticed Dad...........

                2. You can't "teach" manners to children. They learn them - and they learn them from their parents.
                  Even if you might think that you're not ready to go to Buckingham Palace, just that you're aware that manners are important is enough to start transmitting that to even toddlers.
                  Saying "please" and "thank you" to an infant every time you hand him something imprints those words on him.

                  Babies and toddlers don't have the coordination to do more than eat with their tiny fingers, but before long they will want to imitate you and use a tiny fat fork or spoon - even if they use it badly for awhile.
                  Pull their highchairs up to the table, let them eat with you, allow them to try - even if you have to hose them down after meals, and soon they'll get the hang of it through practice.
                  Set the table. Kids love candles. Use them. Napkins on laps. Say grace or a simple thanksgiving. Make dinner a ritual.
                  Kids respond when they think something is important and they will live up to the expectations that you set. You won't have to beat them over the head with stupid rules.
                  Kids can pick up good habits just as easily as they pick up bad ones.
                  Talk during meals and include the children in conversation. No TV, no phone calls. Family time. Kids enjoy being included and made to feel special. This becomes more important as they grow older and you'll have time to communicate with your kids - if only for that brief mealtime.
                  This is an investment in your children. You gotta eat anyway so make it count.

                  Manners are nothing more than fitting comfortably into society and your family is your child's society. Set some standards and your child will live up to them. He'll progress into learning how to fit into the world at large and grow up having good manners and being considerate of others.
                  There's plenty of time to learn how to eat artichokes and what to do with an olive pit.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MakingSense

                    >>You can't "teach" manners to children. They learn them - and they learn them from their parents.<<

                    While I get what you are saying, I do think that the only way that children will learn manners is by their parents teaching them. My mother had a little song she would sing when we had forgotten to do something or were doing something impolite at the table . . . "put your napkin in your lap, Dana B." or "take your elbow off the table, Dana B." sung to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." She was consistent, and we definitely learned. In addition, whenever we went over to our grandparents' house for the weekend (which was quite often, at least a dozen times a year), we would have dinner on Saturday night in the formal dining room, so we could 'practice" our table manners in a realistic setting. They did this from the time we could sit in a regular chair and use utensils on our own, and continued until we went away to college.

                    My mother's little reminders still are with me to this day, and between my mom and my grandma, table manners and other social niceties were so well-ingrained that they just became second nature.

                    1. re: DanaB

                      I understand. I had a bunch of "teaching tools" as well. Such as teaching them that the fork went on the left side when they set the table because both "fork" and "left" had 4 letters each, while "knife," "spoon," and "right" had 5 letters each. (Setting the table was their job each night from the time they could reach the table top.)

                      Consistency and expecting that your kids actually USE good manners (not prissy manners) is how they learn. It becomes as much a part of eating as the food itself. After awhile, they automatically put the napkin on their laps or call out, "Mom, may I have a napkin please?"

                      The best thing about those dinners in your grandparents' house is that you knew how to act like well-mannered children. I'll bet your parents could also take you to good restaurants without worrying that you'd act like little savages.
                      There is no way that kids who don't have the experience and practice can suddenly - ta da! - be told a few rules and be expected to behave well. That's asking too much of even the smartest child. They need practice.
                      I think it's a big mistake when families don't sit down to meals. They miss the learning opportunities and the time to pay attention to one another.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        I agree with both of you...we have dinner together as a family at a properly set table and play beautiful music in the background. The food and conversation are front and center. When the children were younger, we would correct them in a matter of fact way.We would simply say,"napkin on your lap" or the like in a casual way and continue with the conversation. They learn through example along with gentle instruction.

                        We always expected that the children would ask to be excused from the table and clear their plate.

                        I am the primary cook, so because my husband would always thank me for the meal, so would my children. They do this all the time.

                        Rizzo 0904: You are doing your children a great service. Good luck!

                      2. re: DanaB

                        kind of cute. . . but i was taught that singing at the table was extremely bad manners (the exception is singing "happy birthday"). . .

                    2. For somewhat older children, the Tiffany book is quite good.

                      1. http://www.amazon.com/How-Rude-Teenag...

                        This book is about manners in general and includes table manners. It has humor and is written with concrete thinkers in mind but is geared toward teenagers. (Sounds like yours may be younger.) Our public library system has it.

                        1. Thanks for all of the responses. My hubby and I both have pretty good table manners, but I'd like us to brush up on some stuff as well so that our son sees us using good manners.

                          I'm really hoping that one day he will correct my in-laws and my husband and I can sit back and laugh while a 3 year old chides them for their rudeness. Is that bad? They have the worst manners. When we are out, they always start eating before everyone has received their meal. If 4 of us are splitting an appetizer, my fil will go first and take 1/2 of what is on the plate. My mil insists on applying her makeup at the table...I know there are two schools of thought on that...I think you should go to the ladies room. I could go on and on and on.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rizzo0904

                            Seeking to embarrass people in public is not good manners!

                            Having said that, I am assuming you are venting and expressing a fantasy....Right?

                            1. re: rizzo0904

                              "I'm really hoping that one day he will correct my in-laws and my husband and I can sit back and laugh while a 3 year old chides them for their rudeness. Is that bad?"

                              Yes. Etiquette is supposed to make people more comfortable, not less. Using your kid as a way to humiliate your in-laws is very bad manners.

                            2. My daughter has a charming book called What You Never Knew about Fingers, Forks, and Chopsticks, by Patricia Lauber. It's not exactly a book of manners, but it does touch on the subject as it describes the evolution of eating utensils around the world.